Infielders to Target: Mike Aviles, Bryan LaHair
BY ROB SHAW
The Red Sox willingness to trade away both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie was certainly bold, but really the bigger story was the franchise’s confidence in former Royals middle infielder Mike Aviles.
A career .288 hitter, Aviles has been a fine contributor in the Majors when healthy. The New York native making himself at home in Boston doesn’t have much power, but in a solid lineup he can pile up many runs. He is also a sneaky stolen base threat. Think of Aviles in the same mold as Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, except for a much lower cost and with shortstop eligibility.
Aviles and the Red Sox played at the hitter-friendly US Cellular in Chicago this weekend. Though he finished hitless in his final seven at bats, the 31-year-old veteran makes for a great start in the next series against Oakland. The series will be played in Fenway Park where he already boasts two home runs and a .333 average this season.
The Cubs slugger Bryan LaHair reminds me a bit of Michael Morse, a late bloomer with plenty of power who finally broke out last season with the Nationals. LaHair, is a 29-year-old slugger who entered the season with just five home runs to his credit. He spent the last six seasons at Triple-A and last season blasted 38 round-trippers with a .331 average.
So far LaHair is batting .382 with the majority of those hits good for extra bases. While those numbers will regress quite a bit, that does not mean that he can’t still end up as one of the greatest surprises of the season. LaHair can blast 25 home runs with 90 RBI.
In many ways, he is an upgrade over Carlos Pena for the Cubbies at first base. He may not be the defensive gem that Pena is, but with an average .150 better than what Pena has offered the last few seasons, the Chicago fan base is not complaining. Neither should fantasy managers.